Friday, June 30, 2017

THE CEPHALOPOD COFFEEHOUSE: WAR BRIDES BY HELEN BRYAN

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,




Welcome one and all to The Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the works they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino, and join in the fun. This blog hop is hosted by The Armchair SquidClick on the link to sign up to join us.

The best book that I finished this month is War Brides by Helen Bryan.




Although this work of historical fiction/romance/mystery is fairly long, I didn't want it to end. I can't say that the writing is brilliant, but the characters are so interesting that I wanted to know what happened to them. It was hard to put War Brides down at night and go to sleep. I think I even dreamed about reading it.

Five young women end up in the English village of Crownmarsh Priors during the second World War, and all––in spite of their differences––become close friends and war brides. Their romances take center stage, but they're also dealing with refugees, pregnancies, evacuees from London, working as "Land Girls," rationing (of very bad food), and danger. Their day-to-day lives are interesting enough alone, but when one of them is recruited to go above-and-beyond the call of duty by her country, she jumps in immediately to give her all.

In addition to loving the characters, I'm pleased that this novel focuses on how important "women's work" was during the war. Helen Bryan writes in her "Introduction":

In households I knew as a child, family photographs of uniformed men and women were yellowing and gradually consigned to closets and drawers to make way for wedding pictures, new babies, and family holiday pictures. I began to add to what I already knew about how women had coped in the war, not sure at first what I would do with this information. The preoccupations women of any period share––falling in love, marriage, looking after husbands and families, struggling in many cases with financial pressures to make ends meet or forced by circumstances into spinsterhood––remained the same as the war engulfed everybody. In terrible times, and despite the heavy added burdens of war work, rationing, and the threat of invasion, many women fought a personal battle for some kind of normality, with the kind of determined courage never mentioned in the history books. Elsie, Frances, Alice, Tanni, and Evangeline soon invented themselves out of the information I was amassing. They hung about, waiting for their stories to be written.

I'm glad Bryan couldn't get these characters off her mind without writing their stories. I must say that the conclusion of the book also has a twist that makes me long for a sequel, but I don't expect one since War Brides was published in 2007. I wish I'd known about it sooner. 

This book will make a great summer read on the beach, at the pool, in your favorite chair, or where I read it: in bed.

Happy reading!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

53 comments:

  1. Sounds like a good read. :)

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    1. It is. I think you'd like it, but I don't know if your eyes allow much reading yet. Does your library lady ever offer audio books?

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  2. Hi Janie - thanks for shout out for this book - I imagine it'd be interesting to read about these aspects of war at home ... I know a little about the Land Girls ... so as say a book to note for a good read ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Netflix had a series called Land Girls, but it disappeared before I got to watch it.

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  3. Once again, WW2 proves to be the ultimate narrative treasure trove. Civilian life during war seems to be a particularly interesting avenue of exploration. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It was much tougher for British people during the war than for Americans.

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  4. I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but this sounds like something I'd give a chance. I've seen a movie with a similar title and would like to do a comparison. Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. Do you remember the title of the movie? It might interest me, too.

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  5. Sounds like and engaging read! I'm not sure if I;ll squeeze it in, but I know it's likely to be awesome.
    Thanks for sharing.
    V :)

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  6. This sounds like my kind of book, I'll have to pop over to Amazon!

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  7. I believe Mrs. Chatterbox read and enjoyed this book.

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  8. Sounds good! So, were these women "war brides" in the technical sense of that term? i.e. British women who married foreign allied soldiers and immigrated with them after the war. I had a British auntie by marriage who had been a war bride. Her Canadian husband was an SOB who deserted her and their 2 toddlers and left them penniless. She raised the kids on her own as a single Mom and working as a nurse. Later she married my uncle and had a good life after that.

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    1. Only one is a typical war bride. She's English and marries an American. Another is American and marries a British soldier. One is Jewish and from Austria. She escapes to England with her new husband, who does war work. One is a British aristocrat, and one is from London's East End. Your poor auntie. I'm glad things turned out well for her.

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  9. Sounds like an interesting book that, although fiction, could be a true story as this happened for many during that time

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    1. A lot of it is based on reality. The author did a great deal of research.

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  10. Thank you! I'd been meaning to read War Brides and then simply forgot

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  11. Sounds interesting. I'm occasionally interested in historical fiction.

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    1. It's an occasional thing for me, too.

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  12. I'm putting this one on my list as historical fiction is among my favorite genres. Thanks :)

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  13. Thanks for the recommendation! I was going to purchase this book a while back, but the reviews kinda steered me away from it. I trust your taste, so I'll check it out again.

    Have a super weekend!

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    1. I read a few of the reviews. They said the book was full of errors. It must have been corrected because it's fine now.

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    2. I think the errors they were talking about were factual errors, which is even worse than grammatical ones. (But not by much...)

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  14. Mum told me about what it was like during the war, rationing, working, all the things our Mums did.
    This book sounds gud. There is a series on PBS called Home Front that is fluffy but interesting.

    cheers, parsnip and thehamish

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    1. I've seen a few episodes of Home Fires (is that what you mean?) and want to watch the rest of it.

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  15. This sounds right up my alley, as I really enjoy well-written works about how ordinary people coped in wartime. I am always inspired by their courage and stories, fiction or non-fiction. I'd have been a wuss in similar circumstances.

    Thanks for the review, Janie - I always like hearing about good books.

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    1. You're welcome. I'd have been a wuss during the war.

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  16. This sounds very interesting! I'll have to look further into it. Thanks for sharing!

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  17. Sometimes a book can be great without the writing being brilliant. Sometimes the writing is brilliant but it's a snooze fest nevertheless... No?

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  18. This is very intriguing - your writing and hers, and the fact that you read this in bed. I hope WDW didn't notice.
    Love.

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    1. He makes passionate love to me while I read.

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  19. Isn't there also a movie based on this? Or is it just called the same thing? Not that I'm advocating watching the movie INSTEAD of reading...

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    1. You're close on the title. A Canadian movie called War Bride is not based on this book.

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  20. Hi, Janie! I hope that you have been enjoying a leisurely July 4th weekend. We've had fireworks going off around us for several nights now. The book "War Brides" sounds intriguing. I used to jig squid in Newfoundland. I feel a little guilty, slipping into this!

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    1. Jig squid? You've lost me. I'll have to Google it.

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    2. A squid, as you know, is a cephalopod, and in Newfoundland people eat squid. They catch them with jiggers which are a special kind of hook. You toss your jigger over the side of your rowboat and jig it up and down. When a squid hits the jigger you pull it up and toss it into the boat. You try to swing the line just so, so that when the squid squirts out its defensive ink it hits the others in the boat. Lots of fun usually accompanied by drinking screech and having a good feed after jigging. Sorry I'm so late filling you in. I'm so behind!

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  21. This sounds like a really good read! Thanks for sharing :) I love when the characters are so compelling.

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  22. This sounds like a most excellent book. Thank you for telling us about it.

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  23. Doesn't quite sound like my cup of tea, but still sounds like quite the interesting story. I love a good story based on true events, and I think it's awesome that it shows just how badass these ladies were. You don't have to hoist a rifle and crawl through trenches in order to be helpful in a war, nor to be a badass.

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    1. One of them does use a gun at times . . .

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  24. I've heard of this one but didn't know much about it. Your review has piqued my interest.
    Thanks, Janie.

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  25. This sounds like something my mother would enjoy. I'll have to ask her if she's read it and, if not, I shall recommend it!

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  26. I love stories such as War Brides. I, too, wouldn't be able to get it out of my mind.

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  27. I'm sure I've heard of the book 'War Brides' - though maybe there was more than one? There was certainly more than one war bride! Anyway, it sounds like a good read.

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